NextEra Energy of Canada has received ministry of environment approval for a wind energy development east of Durham in the Priceville area.
The project involves 14 turbines with a total generating capacity of 23 megawatts of electricity, a transformer substation, access roads, underground cables, overhead transmission lines and interconnection equipment.
NextEra still has work to do before construction can begin including surveying and monitoring significant habitat for bats and wetland amphibians and a baseline survey of bird breeding habitat.
No construction or installation activities can begin in areas that support the bobolink and eastern meadowlark until the company has met all of the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
The approval also calls for an acoustic barrier to be built at the transformer station to act as a noise barrier.
During the next three months NextEra must prepare traffic management plans for West Grey and Grey County. The company has an additional three months to enter into road use agreements with the municipality and the county.
Company spokesperson Josie Hernandes said Tuesday plans are underway to establish a community liaison committee that will act as a forum for the exchange of ideas, sharing of concerns by residents and a forum for company updates on issues relating to construction, installation, operation and maintenance of the facility.
The committee will operate for a minimum of two yearsand must meet at least twice a year during that time. Meetings are open to the public.
Now that the province has approved the project, there’s a 15 day appeal period when any Ontario resident can request a hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal. A notice of appeal will be placed on the Environmental Bill of Rights website.
“Anyone has the right to appeal. They have to do it within 15 days. If there is an appeal those hearings will begin shortly after,” said Hernandes.
Hernandes said she expects construction to begin in March with a completion date near the end of the year.
NextEra and Etobicoke-based Borea Construction will hold a job and business opportunity open house at the Durham community centre on Feb. 3 from 4-8 p.m.
“It’s not just for the people interested in the construction side, but if people are interested in working for our company, interested in providing services like hotel accommodation or snow clearing, printing or portable rest rooms – we bring in quite a few people to build these things and they are there for a little while,” said Hernandes.
West Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles said council and staff are in discussion with the municipality’s lawyer as they digest the 35-page approval report.
Council has declared the municipality not a willing host to wind developments, but the project predates Premier Kathleen Wynne’s promise, when she took office in February, not to impose such projects on places unwilling to take them.
Eccles noted the company has yet to enter into a road use agreement with Grey County or West Grey and that no building permits have been issued for the project.
“It’s still a process that we’re working on,” he said.
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